One ticket for Planet of Lana, please. Erm… a three-night stay, but I’ll be back again as it’s such a beautiful place (despite the dangers), plus a few achievements have been left behind. I want to revisit those. Who am I flying with? Oh, Wishfully Studios and Thunderful. Wonderful!
Announced at the Summer Game Fest in 2022, it was expected later in the year but was released today on PC and Game Pass. Was it worth the wait? I think so. If you played the demo, it’s much of the same – a side-scrolling platform puzzler, emphasising cinematic storytelling and minimal dialogue but with lots of heart.
The planet of Lana is a stunning place. Lana, our hero, is spoiled by gorgeous scenery, freedom, and assumed peace. However, spaceships appear in the sky and begin abducting the residents of her small village. Dipping into the survival tank, she evades this minor invasion but sets out on a mission to find her family member, who is taken in front of her very eyes. What can she do?
Planet Of Lana Review – PC
This boils down to a lot of stomping in one direction, hoping to find some clues as to where the people have been taken. After the initial invasion, the threat of alien robotics thins out, and we’re soon on a tour of the planet, taking in its many moons and vegetation. It’s much of the same until we stumble across enemy patrols in the wild that must be outsmarted through jumps, switches, and stealth.
It’s a pleasant, albeit lonely, experience at first as Lana fends for herself. There are no health packs or collectables to be concerned with – to avoid being captured. Like its counterpart, Inside, being caught often means being killed. Why do they have to single you out? A cage is fine! Still, it’s an incentive not to get caught, especially when you befriend space cat thingy, Mui.
No spoilers as such, but Lana saves Mui early on, and the two instantly bond. They’re your companion in the game who will act as a distraction where there are threats, activate switches and… interact with the wildlife. Having come to Planet of Lana fresh off of binge-watching The Mandalorian, it’s hard not to compare Mui’s responses to Grogu’s. Very cute.
Mui Perfect Puzzles
That’s not the only Star Wars comparison, as the score is absolutely fantastic. Cinematic throughout, it switches up the pace when needed, blasts out the speakers in unison with the thud from your heart, but craftily retreats as some more subtle areas. It’s easily one of the best soundtracks in a game and really adds to the immersion.
But gameplay is essential and can’t be carried by the presentation. Traversing through Planet of Lana is a simple one, occasionally mundane in some areas, despite the short playtime, as with a few minor exceptions, you’ll be holding right the whole time, jumping accordingly with minimal effort. There’s no sprint option, and ignoring the vivid backgrounds, it can drag. Fortunately, the puzzles are as perfect as can be.
That perfect labelling stems from Planet of Lana’s uncanny difficulty curve: it’s just right. Stealth puzzles involve hiding from enemies in long grass or using Mui to distract them while you make a dash for it. Other puzzles will be about manipulating the environments, taking control of enemies, and reaching previously inaccessible platforms. And the timing? Also perfect. There’s just the right window of opportunity to get through a scene without dying.
A Return Trip To Planet Of Lana
Let us remember that perfect doesn’t mean easy. Easy would be boring. A fair share of puzzles had me stumped, and the impatient me was eager to look up a walkthrough, but as this review is based on early access to the game, I had to work it out myself – and rightly so. It was a far more rewarding experience to get through this without stabilisers.
Aside from a few red-herring cinematic scenes that appeared to be ending the game prematurely without closure and some monotonous scenes running over and over, I was delighted by the conclusion. It’s an emotional journey, and the story is told very well through its visuals and accompanying score to the point where we don’t need any lengthy dialogue. It’s a very satisfying experience and encourages further trips to Planet of Lana.
Though this isn’t a game about collectables, there are some elusive achievements for trophy hunters, such as finishing the game without dying. It’s far from Dark Souls, but death is common and easily arranged if your timings are off (notably jumps!). Though it isn’t as ambiguous as Inside, it’s very similar in its mechanics – Planet of Lana is the polar opposite in its colour choices – think Another World, or the more recent Somerville, perhaps. Either way, it’s a great title.
With gorgeous visuals and a few biome variations to mix it up, a stand-out score from start to finish, and the perfect challenge when it comes to puzzles, Planet of Lana is a most excellent adventure from start to finish. It is a little short but well worth repeat plays. Just bring some decent running shoes.